Trauma and First Aid FAQs

Answers FAQ

Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP on March 23, 2018

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Q:What is the difference between physical and emotional trauma?

A:The term "trauma" can be used in several different ways when referring to medical cases.

Physical trauma occurs as the result of an outside force against your body (car accident, fall, gunshot wound, etc.). Emotional or psychiatric trauma can be the result of physical trauma or the consequence of witnessing or experiencing a severely distressing event.

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Q:What term describes the physical or emotional aftermath following a traumatic or distressing event?

A:Shock.

The term "shock" can be used to describe the emotional and physical reaction to a stressful or traumatic event. People who witness a very stressful or life-threatening situation can become "dazed," "at a loss for words," or temporarily incapacitated.

Medically speaking, however, "shock" means the physiological result of the body tissues not receiving enough oxygen for them to function on the cellular level. Shock is an emergency medical condition that can rapidly lead to death. Infections, trauma, massive bleeding, and heart attacks are some of the common medical problems leading to "shock."

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Q:What is the medical term for assistance given to a person in need of urgent medical intervention?

A:First aid is the term used to describe the assistance given to a sick or injured person before professional medical assistance arrives.

It consists of evaluation of the patient's injury or severity of illness, immediate treatment of life-threatening problems (if possible), and activation of the local emergency services system (whether calling 911 or going to a doctor) if necessary.

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Q:What is the best way to clean a wound?

A:The best way to clean a wound is with simple soap and water.

Rinse wounds thoroughly with clean water (tap water is fine) and remove any dirt or debris. A medical professional should evaluate wounds that are deep, large, or very dirty.

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Q:What is the name for the emergency treatment for obstruction of the airway in adults?

A:The Heimlich maneuver.

Abdominal thrusts, also called the Heimlich maneuver, are one of the main first aid treatments for airway obstructions in adults. An abdominal thrust is better at removing objects that cause choking than giving sharp blows to the back.

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Q:What is the complete medical terminology for CPR?

A:Cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, refers to the chest compressions and rescue breathing done for an unresponsive and pulseless person who has recently collapsed. The chest compressions are used to keep the blood circulating in the case of cardiac arrest (where the heart stops beating). CPR done correctly and early in the setting of a cardiac arrest situation can be life-saving.

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Q:What is the medical term for injury to a muscle or tendon?

A:Strain.

Strains occur when there is injury to a muscle or a tendon. Tendons are tissues that hold muscles to bones and help in the movement of joints. A sprain occurs when there is damage to a ligament. Ligaments are the fibrous bands of tissue that hold bones together.

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Q:What happens when a traumatic impact breaks blood vessels below the skin and blood seeps into tissues?

A:A bruise happens when a traumatic impact causes injury to the small blood vessels in your skin, causing blood to leak into the area.

The purple/red color is from the bleeding in the area of the trauma. Applying ice/cold to the area as soon as possible after the injury can decrease the size of the bruising.

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Q:What is medical term for a short-lived loss of brain function that is due to head trauma?

A:Concussion.

A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain that alters its normal function. Concussions can result from blows to the head especially from sports injuries, car accidents, and falls. The symptoms of a concussion can include: headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, short-term memory loss, nausea, ringing in the ears, feeling unstable, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms are usually temporary but can become chronic, especially with repeated concussions.

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Q:What degree of burn is sunburn (without blisters)?

A:First degree burn.

Burns are categorized by the depth of the damage left behind.

First-degree burns are superficial, causing inflammation, swelling, and redness (such as a sunburn).

Second-degree burns are deeper and result in redness, swelling, and blistering of the top layers of the skin (this can occur in very severe sunburns but occur more commonly from an acute exposure to a source of heat).

Third-degree burns are deep into the subcutaneous tissue and can include tendons, ligaments, and bones. The skin (if still intact) can appear scorched, blackened, white, or pale. These burns require a large amount of heat energy and leave behind a large amount of tissue damage.

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Q:What are three things that every first-aid kit should contain?

A:Every first-aid kit should contain at least tweezers, hydrocortisone cream, and painkillers.

A good first aid kit will contain the basic things you need to attend to all sorts of minor injuries and illnesses. Your first aid kit should include the following items:

- Bandages
- Gauze pads
- Hand sanitizer
- Rubber/latex gloves
- Wound cleaning wipes
- Topical antibiotics
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Tweezers
- Aspirin
- Allergy pills such as diphenhydramine
- Medical tape

Other items can be included depending on your personal needs and comfort level of using them such as: tourniquets, topical skin glue, eye drops, and/or an epinephrine pen (for allergies).

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